Father and Daughter
Though it would seem that awaiting the birth of a baby is a work in anxiety--trust me, after four children I know, but it was not the only iron in the fire. Another iron in the fire was the approaching graduation of the youngest child from Montana State University Billings on April 28th. As the scriptures state: "The last shall be first and the first shall be last." I don't think they were talking about graduations, but it fits in this situation. After five years of hard work the youngest pulled it off and got his degree . . . we couldn't be prouder. We just weren't expecting him to be the first, but the others will happen eventually too and with each of them we will be just as proud. Now, if we could only get him to get a job and move out of the house!
The college graduate
As great as a graduation is the youngest could not leave well enough alone . . . he added his own drama to the mix. Two nights before his graduation he popped the "question" to his long-time girl friend. He proposed in the mountains--the mountains that they both love-- at Wild Bill Lake near Red Lodge. Thankfully for both--him because she said yes, and her because she said yes and did not have to walk the thirty miles back to the house. To say the least the family made another expansion as this young lady will be a welcome addition to the family--plus the rest of her family who are wonderful people too. We look forward to the wedding that will take place next summer.
The future bride and groom
Adding to the excitement of all of this was the fact that the daughter--the pregnant daughter living in Alabama--flew up for the youngest's graduation and to see the rest of the family on both sides. After a day-long flight took her literally from one end of the United States to the other end, she arrived with a waddle at six months pregnant. Her husband was unable to come home as he was busy with survival training as a part of his pilot training. With open arms we welcomed our shapely daughter and our future granddaughter home. It was a joy to hear her laughter, put up with her lame jokes, and get to drink beer in front of her. I probably missed that part the most, having a beer with the daughter . . . but she survived and so did we. It was a joy to see her after having not seen her for nearly six months. Now we are looking forward to the arrival of the second granddaughter in late July.
The pregnant daughter from Alabama
Then throw on top of all of that our state wide regional and conference meeting held in Helena this past weekend. Meetings rank right up there with yanking wisdom teeth, but I went and survived. Actually it was not bad at all as the wife and I got to spend some time with friends from around the state, heard a good speaker, and actually got to sleep in until 6:00AM two days in a row. A person takes victories, no matter how minor, wherever he can get them.
Things have a tendency to catch up with a person at strange times . . . for me it was about mid-way through the big state meeting in Helena. I kind of felt a tidal wave of the past couple of weeks crashing down . . . not depression so much as a sense of melancholy . . . a kind of grayness to go with the weather we were experiencing on the drive home. A kind of "blah" feeling and wanting something exciting to happen . . . so we drove home through the Helena National Forest.
For the most part the drive was uneventful. Dreary skies, little snow showers here and there, and no critters of any sort. I was hoping for something--a bear or a moose, but nothing . . . until the last two miles of the forest. Zipping along the wife said, "Moose . . . moose . . . MOOSE!" Of course my reaction was, "A moose?" Sure enough, there was a young moose on the side of the road. A quick turn around and we got to sit there and watch this young moose stare us down. It made my day.
The stare down
One expert on symbolism stated that the moose symbolized "the expression of joy when something has been accomplishment, not in a ‘show-off look at me I want recognition‘ kind of way, but in a true sense of sharing that springs from knowing how infectious joy is." I think that that moose was just what I needed at that point . . . a symbol. A symbol of joy for all that had arisen out of the chaos of the past couple of weeks--out of the uncertainty--out of the frustration. A moose was just what I needed. But a moose also symbolizes "being headstrong, longevity, wisdom, confidence, self-esteem, primal feminine energy and steadfastness." For me that says it all at this juncture of my life and the lives of all the Keeners.
Out of the chaos there has come a sacredness. Our family has grown with the addition of a granddaughter . . . a granddaughter whom I am looking forward to getting to know and love for years to come . . . plus the rest of her family whom we welcome with open arms into our family. Our family has also grown with the addition of a future daughter-in-law . . . whom we already see as another daughter . . . and we look forward to her presence in our lives. And, there is the prospect . . . the promise . . . of our second granddaughter to be born in July. Sometimes I just stand in awe at the expansion of the family and how blessed I really am--how blessed we all are. The journey has changed course and I will not let anything keep all of us from exploring where it will lead--nothing. I guess that is where that the symbol of the moose is truly a symbol for the family at this point in our lives . . . to my family I say thank you. Thank you John Andrew and Sarah. Thank you Lily, Hannah, Kaitlyn, and Emily. Thank you Joshua and Megan. Thank you Candace, Jason, and the soon to be Harper. Thank you to the wife and other son. To our extended family in Billings--the Pattees. To our family soon to be in Salt Lake. Thank you all for the sacredness you all bestow upon my life . . . and thank God for moose!